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Ricardo develops next-generation electric vehicle motor

Engineering firm announces that a collaborative research project has led to the development of an 85kW unit that doesn't require rare earth materials

 

Ricardo has developed a new prototype 85kW reluctance drive motor for use in electric vehicle traction applications. The new drive unit has been designed and built by the firm as part of a collaborative R&D project – Rapid Design and Development of a Switched Reluctance Traction Motor (RapidSR).

 

The synchronous reluctance electric motor uses low-cost materials, straightforward manufacturing techniques and simple construction – the unit uses a conventional distributed stator winding. The rotor is made from cut steel laminations, which direct and focus the flux across the air gap. Maximizing this flux linkage between the stator and the rotor means that performance can be optimized within a light, compact package that doesn't require rare earth elements.

“As the market for electric vehicles grows globally, there is an imperative to explore alternatives to permanent magnet traction motors which require the use of expensive and increasingly difficult to source rare earth elements,” says Paul Rivera, MD of the Ricardo hybrid and electric vehicle systems business. “The Ricardo prototype that we have announced today demonstrates what can be achieved by using the latest electric machine design processes in the creation of a high performing, compact, lightweight, and rare earth element free concept.”

The RapidSR project, which launched in 2012, has been focused on generating designs for more economically viable electric motors – by reducing the dependency on the rare earth materials found in permanent magnets. Utilizing CAE-led design projects and a series of prototype designs, the groundwork has been laid for developing future designs of electric vehicle motors that also offer high levels of performance in a compact package – something vital to efficient application in electric vehicles. These designs will also benefit from cost savings as a result of reduced need for rare earth materials.

 

During the project, Ricardo partnered with project leader Cobham Technical Services (which is developing its multi-physics CAE design software, Opera, as a part of the project) and Jaguar Land Rover. The research is being co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

“By bringing together state-of-the-art simulation technology with advanced electric machine design we have created a highly credible next generation EV motor concept that shows considerable promise,” says Will Drury, Ricardo team leader for electric machines and power electronics. “The Ricardo prototype is now built and will be rigorously tested over the coming weeks in order to validate the extremely positive results that it has shown in simulation, as a concept that provides an exceptional balance of performance, compact package, light weight and low cost.”

 

10 March 2015

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